Archive for Repeat examinations

On the Eve of the Repeats

Posted in Covid-19, Education, Maynooth with tags , , on August 11, 2020 by telescoper

I won’t deny that I was caught on the hop by Friday’s sudden announcement of a partial lockdown in an area that includes Maynooth but at least we’ve had a couple of working days to activate Plan B and get all the online assessments ready to replace the repeat examinations that were due to start on campus tomorrow.

Happily all the necessary supports were provided quickly over the weekend and I think we’re now ready to go, with the first paper(s) starting tomorrow morning at 9.30am. There will be several of these per day for the next week or so so it’s going to be a busy period supervising them (remotely) and then marking the scripts when they’re finished. At least we have now got some experience of these tests, having done these before (in May). There are also fewer candidates for the repeats than first time round so it should all be manageable.

When the repeat exams are all marked and the Exam Board finished, we should have a firm idea how many students are progressing to the next academic year so we can draw up plans for lectures and tutorials in September.

Apart that is for the first year, where we won’t know the numbers until September. That will cause a bit of a rush but I’m sure we’ll manage.

All of this assumes that we are doing on-campus teaching in September, which would require the local lockdown to have been lifted. If not we’ll have to do everything online, including tutorials. A ray of hope is that the number of new cases is just 35 today, down from 174 on Saturday, but we’ll have to have nany more days like that to feel secure. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Repeat Message..

Posted in Education, Maynooth with tags , , , on August 8, 2019 by telescoper

Back in Ireland and straight away it’s the repeat examination period at Maynooth University, which started yesterday. My first one was yesterday, actually, for just one student, and I’ve been virtuous and marked the script already.

I’ll be marking quite a few more repeat exams over the next week or so, so here’s a message for any student anywhere taking any at this time:

I thought it was worth mentioning for any university teachers out there reading this that although they are held at roughly the same time of year in the two countries there’s a difference in the way resits are handled in the institutions I’ve worked at in the United Kingdom and the way repeats work here in Maynooth which is implied by the slightly different name.

In UK institutions with which I am familiar students generally take resits when, because they have failed one or more examinations the previous May they have not accumulated sufficient credits to proceed to the next year of their course. Passing the resit allows them to retrieve lost credit, but their mark is generally capped at a bare pass. That means the student gets the credit they need for their degree but their average (which determines whether they get 1st, 2nd or 3rd class Honours) is negatively affected.

This is the case unless a student has extenuating circumstances affecting the earlier examination, such as bad health or family emergency, in which case they take the resit as a `sit’, i.e. for the first time with an uncapped mark.

Here in Maynooth, repeat examinations are generally taken for the same reason as in the UK but the mark obtained is not capped. Indeed, some students – though not many – elect to take the repeat examination even if they passed earlier in the summer, in order to increase their average mark. Another difference is that all students have to pay a fee  for each repeat they take; resits in the UK do not attract additional fees.

When I told former colleagues at Cardiff in the pub last week that repeat examinations are not capped they didn’t like the idea because they felt that it would lead to many students playing games, i.e. deliberately not taking exams in May with the intention of spreading some of their examination  load into August. There’s not much sign of students actually doing that here, to be honest, for the reason that the results from the repeat examination period are not confirmed until early September so that students that deploy this strategy do not know whether they are going to be able to start their course until a couple of weeks before term. That could cause lots of problems securing accommodation, etc, so it doesn’t seem to me to be a good ploy.

Anyway, I’d welcome comments for or against whether resits/repeats should be capped/uncapped and on what practice is adopted in your institution.